The senior pastor of a mega-church in Seoul was sentenced to 15 years in jail for the serial rape of eight female church members.
Seoul Central District Court on Thursday sentenced Lee Jae-rock, the senior pastor of Manmin Joong-ang Church, for tens of offenses against his female church members. The court also ordered 80 hours of sexual offense treatment and banned Lee from working in child-related facilities for 10 years.
Prosecutors had demanded 20 years in jail for Lee, who was indicted in May for some 40 incidents of sexual misconduct, including rape, against eight of his followers over several years.
The court accepted most of the prosecution’s charges against Lee, including that he was a habitual offender.
“The defendant’s wrongdoing is reproachful in that it was intentional, abnormal, and repeated over time in a similar manner,” the court said. “He overpowered the victims, who revered him as a divine being, by telling them they would go to heaven if they followed his orders.”
The eight women filed criminal complaints against him in April, disappointed by the church’s response to an expose of Lee’s behavior by an investigative television program, in which one of the women gave a testimony.
The court said Lee showed no sign of remorse and said that he had betrayed the victims’ faith by disclosing the letters they had sent him in the past. Lee is believed to have accused the victims of plotting to make false charges against him.